This weekend, Portland Air National Guard Technical Sgt. Nathaniel Boehme had the rare honor of wearing his military uniform during the Portland Pride Parade on June 18. He will also be allowed to march in uniform during the Seattle Pride Parade that will take place on June 25.
Active military cannot appear in uniform at pride parades and other events without the authorization of their local unit commanders, and it is believed that Boehme is the first active service member to receive this honor in Oregon or Washington. He had previously requested to appear in uniform during the 2015 and 2016 events, but was not approved.
“I am humbled and honored to be the first-ever active military member in all of Oregon or Washington to receive official permission to wear my military uniform in a Pride parade,” Boehme said. “After three years of trying, it’s fantastic to see the Air National Guard taking this step to show its commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and community.”
Boehme is a proud third-generation airman and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also serves as the LGBTQ veterans coordinator for the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA), a position that was the first of its kind in the nation when it was created by the Legislature in 2015.
“We are very proud of Nathaniel for his service to our state and nation, both in and out of uniform,” said ODVA Director Cameron Smith. “At the same time, we think of the thousands of LGBTQ veterans in our state who previously could not serve their country openly and who may not have accessed the full range of benefits and resources they’ve earned. We are thankful for all of our veterans’ service, and our team and network of veteran service officers are here to assist.”
Boehme is a certified veteran service officer and his office is available to assist Oregon LGBTQ veterans in a variety of services, including military records corrections, filing claims for VA compensation, and providing guidance on other benefits and resources available to Oregon veterans and their families.
Veteran service offices provide free benefit counseling to veterans and their families and are located in every county in Oregon. To find one nearest you, visit www.oregon.gov/ODVA/VSODIRECT/pages/locator.aspx.